Management, Planning, and Programming Needs of Local Transportation Agencies
Iowa is a predominantly rural state with more than 80 percent of all road networks in the state under the jurisdiction of counties and local agencies. This breaks down into more than 90,000 miles in the secondary road system (counties), of which approximately two-thirds are unpaved, and 14,700 street miles managed by about 947 cities. The city streets are essential to connecting residents and businesses and moving goods to their final destination. As local agencies across the nation are experiencing revenue cuts and tight budgets, there is a concerted effort by local agencies to find creative ways to engage stakeholders by objectively communicating the current needs of the roadway infrastructure, future demands, and best ways to spend limited resources. Deighton's Total Infrastructure Management System (dTIMS) provides the tools that allow agencies to effectively analyze, monitor, and graphically display infrastructure programs with the flexibility of making needed adjustments and shifting resources expediently.
There are a number of challenges facing local agencies in the 21st century: lack of financing, dwindling or changing tax base, failing infrastructure, and rapidly evolving technologies. As a result, many local agencies do not have the financial resources or staff to develop an in-house pavement management program (PMP). Sometimes they employ qualitative and subjective methods for determining pavement condition and for selecting maintenance treatments. Most of the time, they employ a worst-first approach to pavement management. This ad-hoc approach does not provide a way for local officials to effectively analyze their programs and then make the necessary adjustments, shift resources, and optimize the use of their revenues.
The Institute for Transportation (InTrans) at Iowa State University, through the Iowa Pavement Management Program (IPMP), has been supporting the management, planning, and programming needs of local transportation agencies. Pavement management and pavement resource allocation continue to be conducted under the auspices of the local agencies, while supporting activities are conducted centrally through a standard technical process by IPMP. By centralizing the support mechanisms, local and regional governments have access to far greater pavement management and database expertise than they would otherwise, as well as to higher quality pavement condition data and superior pavement management decision-making tools. Centralizing pavement management support services and distributing pavement management decision making to the local agencies efficiently divides responsibilities while encouraging the statewide use of pavement management systems.
- Setup Templates - Currently, IPMP is managing 19 dTIMS licenses for local agencies. To minimize the deployment time, IPMP has created a setup template that local agencies can customize to suit their maintenance and improvement strategies.
- Training and Support - Through onsite training and setting up of dTIMS, Intrans provides the initial knowledge base for local agencies to be successful with dTIMS and then supplements that knowledge through annual training and support mechanisms that build on the initial interaction.
- Users' Forum - In addition, Intrans is in the process of starting a dTIMS users' group to build statewide capacity in dTIMS deployment by creating a forum where the local agencies can share and learn from each other. The profiles of local agencies using dTIMS range from those with dedicated staff and resources to do pavement management programs to those that rely on IPMP for their data analysis as well as for developing a long-range plan for pavement maintenance. This users' forum is in response to constant demand by agencies for information about how other local agencies of similar size are using dTIMS.
- Private sector involvement - In addition, encouraging more involvement by local consulting companies in increasing dTIMS usage is one of the goals of the IPMP. At the moment, InTrans is providing training to local consulting companies that have contracted with local agencies with dTIMS license through InTrans.
- Iowa DOT Role - As part of its support of asset management activities for local agencies, the Iowa DOT funded the collection and processing of pavement condition data for all paved public roads in the state. This has provided not only current data for pavement management but also freed up resources for the local agencies to invest in dTIMS.
More and more agencies are signing on. The number of new dTIMS license requests have increased by 50 percent. Most of these new agencies are moving away from an ad-hoc solution to performance or outcome-based budgeting system. Several cities are actively using dTIMS for forecasting and estimating investment levels.
These agencies have found in dTIMS an effective tool for communicating the roadway infrastructure needs as well as engaging stakeholders on optimum strategies for managing their investments.